Beloved bartender and transgender man Daniel Aston, 28, was among the five people shot to death at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub Saturday, according to reports.
But while he may have been primarily known to many as a lovable barman at Club Q, those who truly knew Daniel’s heart knew he was an entertainer first.
According to The New York Times, his mother Sabrina Aston, recalled how her son was “always dressing up” and had a “real good imagination” as a child.
He channeled his passion for performance into plays involving intricate get-ups put on alongside other kids in their Tulsa, Okla., neighborhood, the Associated Press reports.
Growing up, Daniel’s mom said he preferred dressing as a boy, which often led to teasing by his peers, the AP reports.
“I just thought he was going to grow out of it, that he was a tomboy. Then he got really depressed during high school, and he came out to me,” Sabrina told The Washington Post.
During his college years at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., Daniel underwent hormone replacement therapy, according to the AP.
He “was a man, always had been, just his body didn’t fit who he was,” Sabrina said, per The Post, and in 2021, Daniel underwent top surgery.
Two years ago, Daniel got his first bartending gig at Club Q, where he also showcased his drag performances.
“[Daniel’s shows] are great. Everybody needs to go see him,” Sabrina said, according to the AP. “He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly.”
According to The Post, Daniel’s parents were staunch supporters and his biggest fans, often bringing loved ones to his shows.
“We’d bring our friends and family every time they came in town to show off Dan. It’s family friendly,” she said.
“Not many parents go to those shows, but we were king and queen when we went there. They fawned over us — we never had to worry about drinks.”
Now, Sabrina and her husband are left grappling with the heartbreaking reality that they won’t get to see their son perform one last time, after his life was cut short by an alleged gunman on a murderous rampage, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance — a day which honors members of the transgender community who were killed in anti-transgender violence.
“I’m still numb,” Sabrina told The Post. “I’m still in denial mode. I’m just not thinking it’s happened. Just some big mistake. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and it’s just a bad dream.”
To help those impacted by the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, donate to the Colorado Healing Fund.